Is 2019 finally the time to take the plunge and sort out your online presence? Getting hold of the best web hosting service you can should be a key part of your strategy. With your website functioning as a shop window to potential new clients, it's essential that you make the right first impression.
The best web hosting services: Top 5
01. InMotion Hosting
05. 1&1 IONOS
Robust, reliable, attractive websites don't just appear out of thin air; web hosting services are doing all the heavy lifting behind the scenes. Getting hold of one is easy – there are hundreds out there to choose from – but narrowing down the best website hosting provider for your and your business is a trickier task. That’s why we’ve put together this list. We’ve stripped away the jargon and condensed the complex spec sheets into easy-to-scan profiles, so you can easily navigate the different options.
That goes for whether you're a freelancer looking for a website on a budget and just need shared web hosting, if you're after more flexible VPS hosting, or are a bigger operation that needs all the bells and whistles that dedicated servers provide. If you're not sure which is the best level for you (or for where you want to be) - you’ll find a more detailed explanation of the different tiers at the bottom of this guide.
Read on for our pick of the best web hosting services, no matter the size of your website or budget.
Our sister site TechRadar has negotiated some extra discounts on these web hosting services. Creative Bloq readers can also take advantage of these deals.
- Also looking for the best internet plan? Check out our dedicated guides to the best broadband deals and fibre broadband deals
01. InMotion Hosting
The best overall shared web hosting
InMotion Hosting has been running since 2001, and is one of the world’s largest independent hosting companies. It offers several shared hosting plans, with prices starting at a very attractive monthly cost. To sweeten the deal, all of InMotion's plans come with a ton of great free features that other services might charge extra for. Think malware and DDoS protection, basic backups, 'spam-safe' email and a WordPress-based website builder.
Technical features include PHP, Ruby, Perl, Python and PHP 7 support. InMotion provides both MySQL and PostgreSQL databases, and easy-to-use integration with Google Apps. There's also excellent technical support available 24/7, all year round, for US-based users.
InMotion offers both cPanel and Softaculous-powered hosting. In testing, our sister site TechRadar found InMotion’s overall performance levels to be well above average. That’s great news for anyone who wants to see fast-loading websites (which is all of us, let's face it).
Overall, there’s a lot to like here – and competitive pricing too. If you're not satisfied, there's a 90-day money-back guarantee, which knocks the 45-day industry standard out of the park.
The number one preferred partner of WordPress
WordPress is still the most popular website builder, and Utah-based web hosting company Bluehost is WordPress’ preferred partner. Bluehost does a good job of balancing price and features for less experienced businesses, while offering lots of options for more advanced users. Its shared hosting packages start with a very reasonable, home user-oriented 'basic' plan.
WordPress plans are naturally more expensive, but there are discounted introductory rates available. With those, you get automated setup for WordPress, as well as other popular apps via a Mojo Marketplace-powered system. Plus, there’s a cPanel-based area, so if you know what you’re doing, you can tweak things.
Bluehost also gives you a free domain, and provides a free Weebly-based website builder to create a site up to six pages, although website templates aren’t included. And bear in mind that none of the plans include SSL, but certificates are available as an add-on.
With great customer support on offer too, this makes for powerful, feature-packed, user-friendly web hosting – with customisation options for the more demanding user. That said, people who don't want lengthy commitments might prefer HostGator's month-to-month options (see below).
03. HostGator web hosting
The best cheap web hosting option out there
When it comes to cheap web hosting, HostGator’s Hatchling plan is our top choice. The well-known Dallas-based company offers an impressive amount of unrestricted features in its basic Hatchling plan: there are no limits on bandwidth, web space, subdomains, MySQL databases, FTP and email accounts.
There's also one-click WordPress installation, cPanel-based site management and a 99.9% 'uptime' guarantee covering both server and network failures; plus 24/7 customer support, and $100 (around £75) worth of Google and Bing Ads credits.
As you might expect with a cheap hosting plan, you can only operate one website on the Hatchling plan. And you won’t get a free domain name for a year, either. But we like the super-low pricing and the free transfers for new accounts within the first month after you’ve signed up. A 45-day money-back guarantee means that if you’re not happy with the service, you can cancel it.
A good all-round service that's well-known, respected and trusted
US-based GoDaddy is one of the largest web hosting companies around. As one of the few that’s done television advertising, it’s probably the best known, too. Even its cheapest web hosting package comes with 100GB storage, unmetered bandwidth, and a free domain – with plenty of options due to GoDaddy's vast domain name repository. GoDaddy also boasts a guaranteed 99.9% uptime, free backup and restore, and expert hosting support available 24/7, all year round.
One feature we particularly like is that on every package you can increase hosting capacity on demand directly from your account – handy if you experience a sudden surge in traffic.
05. 1&1 IONOS
A solid offering from a major web hosting player
In 2018, European hosting provider 1&1 joined forces with German cloud infrastructure specialist ProfitBricks and rebranded as 1&1 IONOS. 1&1 was already the biggest web hosting player in Europe, and this latest merger marks another step in its battle against GoDaddy for world domination.
1&1 IONOS' cheapest Business package offers a first-year deal that will literally get you started for pennies. When your fee gets bumped up after 12 months, you'll probably be better switching to the Pro package the – the monthly cost is only slightly higher.
The freebies aren’t bad with this provider, although they're not as impressive as they once were. All packages offer a free domain for the first year, and performance and storage scale depending on which package you're using. If you want malware protection, you'll need to stump up for a Pro account. A helpful touch is that every customer is assigned a personal consultant, to offer advice and support via phone, email or chat.
- US: Take a look at the web hosting packages from 1&1 IONOS
- UK: Check out the web hosting packages from 1&1 IONOS
The best UK-based shared hosting service
UK-based tsoHost offers flexible plans at very reasonable prices. You can choose from WordPress hosting, cPanel hosting or cloud web hosting. The cheapest 'Startup' plan is a bargain, and although it only offers 500MB storage, you also get access to unlimited bandwidth, Let’s Encrypt SSL and 10 mailboxes.
tsoHost's site proclaims 24-7 support – but actually, if you run into problems between the hours of midnight and 7am that support comes in the form of the ability to raise a problem ticket. The rest of the time there are people on phones and at the end of instant chat. Performance levels are solid, and there's a 30-day moneyback guarantee if you're not happy with the service.
07. Wix web hosting
The best website builder option
One of the best known web hosting services, Wix really shines when it comes to customisation options. There's a huge number of options to choose from, so you can fine-tune your site to meet your exact preferences. You're particularly spoilt for choice when it comes to templates: there are over 500 to choose from.
If you're creating an ecommerce site there's good news here: Wix offers plenty of ecommerce-specific templates, and it won't levy transaction fees on your sales, either. The site editor is also nice and easy to use, and comes with lots of powerful features, including an integrated image editor.
Wix offers a range of plans, starting with a free option. With this you get limited bandwidth, storage capped at 500MB, and Wix branding on your site. The next level up is the popular Unlimited plan, which gives 10GB of storage, a free domain, unlimited bandwidth, and $75 worth of Google Ad vouchers.
How to choose the right web hosting service
Selecting the right web hosting service depends upon a number of factors, including your resource needs, performance demands, security requirements, cost constraints, server administration preferences and scalability expectations.
So first, identify your needs. Do you have low, heavy or highly variable traffic? Do you need to minimise downtime or guarantee high availability? Do you want control over your server and its performance?
If you’re not bothered about any of those issues, you’ll probably be fine with shared hosting. If you answered yes to any of those questions, you might be better suited to VPS of dedicated hosting.
Shared web hosting
Shared web hosting means that your website will sit on the same server as many other sites. It’s the simplest type of hosting on the market, and it’s the cheapest too – it can cost as little as $1/£1 per month – because it comes with limited bandwidth, administration and performance capabilities.
Think of it like a family data plan: responsibility is shared equally among users, and your monthly data needs don’t exceed the amount allotted in the plan.
If your needs are pretty basic, shared web hosting is a great option. It's good for small websites and novices who don’t want the flexibility and customisation options of VPS or dedicated hosting.
VPS hosting is a more premium option than shared hosting, giving you greater customisation options and increased performance. It costs more, but you get more bandwidth and private disk space, better performance, more safety features, and have full control when it comes to increasing or decreasing your data setup.
That's important if you’re anticipating that your website or creative business is going to grow. VPS hosting will enable you to deliver a user experience that goes beyond the basic shared hosting level.
A dedicated server is best suited to anyone looking to build complex websites that need to look after hundreds of users in a no-compromise environment. (Think Amazon.) It’s like having your own computer: you don’t have to share your space, power or resources with anyone else. Dedicated servers are usually the fastest and most powerful choices available, though some of the high-end VPS options can give the lower performing dedicated servers a run for their money – so check the specs.